Awards Laureates 2013

Over 30 youth leaders from 9 countries around the world were nominated for these awards. We are truly inspired and honoured to have received their applications and applaud the incredible work they are doing to better their communities.

Canada World Youth celebrates the achievements of the 2013 CWY Leadership Awards recipients:

web4Samuel Wakangu – Outstanding Overseas CWY Alumni Award, Kenya
Jennifer Martin – Outstanding Canadian CWY Alumni Award, Canada / Uganda
Kahlil Baker – Youth Innovation Award, Canada / Nicaragua

The 3 youth received their award from the hands of CWY Chair, Colin Robertson, and CWY President and CEO, Rita S. Karakas, during a ceremony held Nov.5th, 2013 in Ottawa.

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The CWY Leadership Awards recognize the achievements of young people from Canada and around the world who are engaged in innovative initiatives that promote peace, intercultural understanding, and community and international development. More than 30 outstanding young leaders were nominated this year. Winners are each awarded $3,000 towards the advancement of their projects.

We are please to present to you the 2013 laureates!


Outstanding Canadian CWY Alumni Award

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Jennifer Martin

Founder, Thrive, Canada

Growing up in the Midland and Penetanguishene area, Jennifer Martin lived in a transient “cottage community” where summer months brought life to the close-knit beach community and where winters were filled with quiet days. To ensure Jennifer was a strong swimmer for the summer months, and to keep her busy and active in the winter months, her parents enrolled her in the Midland YMCA. From the age of 2 to 18, she was an active member at the YMCA where she mastered swimming, earned her first job as a lifeguard and became actively involved in the YMCA youth leadership programs.

It was her involvement with the YMCA that, in 2003, led her to take part in a Canada World Youth (CWY) Program. Jennifer travelled to Honduras with 17 other participants from the YMCA Advanced Youth Leadership Program for a month long cultural exchange experience. This was her first experience in the context of the “developing world” and she arrived in Honduras “naïve” but prepared to help. She left Honduras humbled, with a deep appreciation for different ways of living and having realized the inherent capacity of people and communities.

A year after her CWY experience she enrolled in a Bachelors of Science in Nursing at the University of Western Ontario. This was to be her stepping-stone to her interest in working with communities in the global south. In her first year of university, she returned to Honduras to work at a facility providing residential care for street children. It was an institute with wonderful children, good intentions, but one that overwhelmingly failed to meet the needs of the children in its care. After graduation she immersed herself in her nursing career at home: working both in the hospital and in the community as a visiting nurse. In 2009, Jennifer took a break from work and travelled to Uganda where she volunteered at an orphanage. The institution housing “abandoned” children was appalling. It was there that she began to connect the dots. She learned that few of the children in the orphanages in Uganda, as well as internationally, are “orphans”, but most are abandoned by their families due to crippling poverty. Furthermore, she realised that many orphanages are run as businesses, not care facilities, fiercely guarding the children and thus denying them family care. She resolves to see that no child grows up in this type of institution. An idea was born. Jennifer decided to found Thrive Right, Uganda, working in the district where she first met the children who inspired the idea. By strengthening families and engaging communities, Thrive is working to prevent child abandonment, to reunite institutionalized children with their families and to ensure that all children have the opportunity to live and thrive at home.

Jennifer is a leader in building programs that support youth and families, creating greater opportunities for learning and community building.

Lear more about Jennifer and the work of Thrive: www.thriveuganda.org

 In pink-Lillian Nazziwa, in blue Allan Kyambadde,in red short Laurent Bagenda, baby Stella Namirimo & mother Miria Kabeera

Miria Kabeera and her children are a family supported by Thrive in Uganda.


Outstanding Overseas CWY Alumni Award

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Samuel Wakang’u Kiarie

Founder, Community Volunteer Service Kenya, Kenya

Samuel Wakang’u Kiarie recently graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Education from Kenyatta University and is currently pursuing a Master’s of Science in Environmental Studies Community Development.

The eldest in a family of 9, Samuel grew up on a small farm 50 km northwest of the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, in a small village in the Lari Division, Kiambu District, in south-central Kenya. While still in high school, Samuel began volunteering with the Kijabe Environment Volunteers Organization (KENVO). His active volunteer work with KENVO contributed to his being selected as a youth volunteer for Canada World Youth /KENVO youth exchange programs as part of the south-south exchange program between Tanzania and Kenya, in 2004-2005 and again in 2006-2007, as part of the Youth Leaders in Action (YLA) exchange program between North Bay, Ontario and Kilimanjaro, Chamazi, Tanzania.
It is during his volunteer activities, as part of his Canada World Youth-KENVO exchanges, that Samuel says he learned to be a “responsible global citizen”. Through his experience, he was exposed to, and learned about, environmental issues and community development through a cross-cultural lens. The self-confidence and leadership skills that he gained through his experiences made him realized that he could do more. Interested in preserving the local biodiversity, taking into consideration the local community to ensure sustainable development, he decided to focus on local youth and their capacity to bring about change in their communities. With this goal in mind, Samuel founded the organization: Community Volunteers Service Kenya (CVSK).

His organization works to promote and improve the livelihood and literacy levels amongst youth, while working to ensure environmental sustainability. He does this by providing information and experiences that connect education, environment, livelihood, professionalism and personal growth and their role in sustainable development initiatives. Among their many activities, CVSK runs environmental education, outreach and volunteer programs in 8 schools in the region, as well as organizes various camps where youth are introduce and expose to activities such as: motivational talks on career development; problem solving; leadership; entrepreneurship; holistic health; intercultural communication; Goal Setting for Success; personal accountability for success; personal finance management and the value of volunteerism. The last camps reached more than 184 youth participants coming not only from Kenya, but also from Tanzania, Rwanda, and Canada.

Samuel is strong leader of youth oriented and sustainable development focused initiatives in his community. He is a mentor and role model for youth not only in his own country, but for youth in communities world-wide.

School educational study in Kereita forest.

CVSK School educational study in Kereita forest, Kenya.


Youth Innovation Award

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Kahlil Baker

Co-Founder, Taking Root Limay Community Carbon Project in Nicaragua, Canada

Kahlil Baker has worked in the Canadian silviculture industry for years. He holds a Master’s degree in forest biometrics from the University of British-Columbia, a degree in economics from Concordia University, a permaculture design certificate from Costa Rica and a professional specialization certificate in business development. He is currently pursuing doctoral research in forest economics at the University of British Columbia while working for Taking Root as Executive Director.

With over 12 years experience working with farming communities and reforestation projects in Central America, Kahlil Baker has been developing innovative approaches to making community forestry an economically viable land use option for subsistence farmers. He co-founded the organization Taking Root, spearheading the Limay Community Carbon Project in the rural Nicaraguan community of San Juan de Limay. His primary responsibility with the organization is to oversee all aspects of forest operations. This involves complying with rigorous international forest carbon standards, developing forest inventory and carbon accounting methodologies and supervising the operational team, both in Canada and Nicaragua. Kahlil also works to develop international partnerships to promote the project.

The Limay Community Carbon project uses of reforestations as a means to restore ecosystems, improve livelihoods, and tackle climate change. It collaborates with smallholder farming families in Nicaragua to reforest underutilized portions of their land. Farmers receive payments for ecosystem services upon meeting predetermined targets for tree growth and survival. Through the process of making reforestation an economically viable land-use option, one that fits within a holistic farm management plan, the project is helping to increase forest cover, to restore the nearby watershed and to improve the quality of life for residents of Limay. As of 2012, 240 families in rural communities are directly involved in the project and have planted 926,000 trees to date. Over 60 new families are expected to join in 2013. The project is primarily funded through the sale of the ecosystem services as carbon offsets via partnering companies in North America and Europe that promote the project to individuals and businesses that are working to take responsibility for their carbon footprint.

Kahlil is a leader in innovative approaches to community economic development, ensuring the environment and community members are central to the work and growth of Taking Root projects.

Learn more about the Limay Community Carbon Project: www.takingroot.org

Farmers installing a fence, San Juan de Limay, Nicaragua

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Click here to learn about the 2012 laureates

Cet article est également disponible en FR.